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Watchdog Group: UK Public Finances At Risk If Work-From-Home Continues

Britain’s public finances could be in jeopardy as part of the permanent shift toward working from home, according to a member of the government’s independent financial watchdog group.

“Our feeling is that it will be somewhat less government-revenue rich than office working,” said Andy King, a member of the Office for Budget Responsibility, on Wednesday (July 21) at a Parliament hearing in London, according to a Bloomberg report.

“If you think about spending less on commuting, cafes and restaurants and spending more on heating homes or buying fans during the summer, or spending more on your supermarket shop — all of those things reduce the amount of government revenue per pound of activity,” he said at the hearing.

The U.K. lifted many of its final pandemic restrictions earlier this week, after 16 months of lockdowns. That time away from the office has made many employees think twice about their desire to return to the office full-time — or at all.

“It looks like there will be a lasting change in the way work is organized,” said Charles Bean, another member of the OBR and a former chief economist for the Bank of England, in the Bloomberg report. “There is survey evidence available now for both the U.K. and the U.S., which suggests that something like 70 percent of people would like to be working two or more days a week from home.”

According to a PYMNTS survey in March, 79 percent of remote workers say they don’t want to return to a physical office, placing it statistically behind seeing friends, traveling internationally and shopping in a grocery store on the list of things they are eager to resume doing.

Almost 40 percent of all respondents have shifted to working from home instead of in an office, and 83 percent of those consumers intend to keep working from home at least somewhat as often as they do now, even after they are given the green light to go back to the office, according to PYMNTS data.

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